To most people, Festivus has everything to do with Seinfeld, an aluminum pole, the “Airing of Grievances” and “Feats of Strength”. In Baltimore it carries a totally different meaning.
When the 2000 Baltimore Ravens started their playoff run in the month of December, Coach Brian Billick forbid his players from mentioning the word “playoffs”. Forbid and actually threatened to fine any player who even whispered the word. The team needed a code word and it was decided that “Festivus” would be that phrase. Similarly, once into the playoffs, the club was not supposed to mention the pinnacle — the Super Bowl. From that point on, the city of Baltimore has referred to Super Bowl as Festivus Maximus.
Happy Festivus Maximus, everyone.
As the legend goes Colin Kaepernick got a pet tortoise when he was ten years-old. At that time, Sammy the tortoise, was so tiny he could fit in the palm of Kap’s hand. These days, Sammy is a little larger.
And it continues. Is there anything not to like about this kid?
“And my vision
That I’m living
Is to see two more daughters
Dance at their wedding
hoist that Lombardi
— Coach Chuck Pagano in a very emotional locker room speech.
Get well soon, Coach.
Baseball is in full swing (the trade deadline is only a week away), the NBA’s offseason thus far has been a circus and the Summer Olympics are starting. Meanwhile I can’t stop reading about training camps.
I’m a slave to the shield.
Happy Friday the 13th. Happy birthday Jason Voorhees. It was actually last month, June 13, 1946. So a belated happy birthday to Mr. Voorhees.
Jason was an unstoppable silent killer and in my book the coolest movie monster of all time. He died time and time again but was always coming back. Jason was reanimated by lightning, telekinesis, electricity (again) and Freddy Kruger. At one point Jason didn’t even have the need for a physical body, the FBI blew his old body apart in Jason 9. Anyways, I think you get it — coolest movie monster ever.
One can only assume that former Eagles cornerback, Sheldon Brown, is in the same camp (Camp Crystal Lake). See what I did there? In 2009 the Philadelphia Eagles hosted a home game against Drew Brees and the Saints. During pregame introductions Sheldon emerged from the smokey tunnel wearing a Jason mask. It wasn’t Friday the 13th or even Halloween, rather a normal Sunday game during late September. Everyone was kind of puzzled and Sheldon didn’t help offer any explanation. When asked why he wore the mask he responded with the following.
“I don’t want to talk about it. That’s the way my career has been and I’ll let you figure that out.”
Deep stuff but I tend to think he was just paying homage to the unstoppable slashing machine that is Jason Voorhees. That or he was just calling back to the time he almost ended Reggie Bush’s life.
In 1964 I was sitting in the back seat of his car on the way to Bears training camp at St. Joseph’s College in Rensselaer, Indiana while he and my father were discussing personnel and objectives for the team. I caught him staring at me in the rear view mirror, noticing how intently I was trying to follow the conversation. He turned to me at one point and said: “That’s great you want to learn about the team, I think it’s time you learn your first cuss word.”
After a slight pause, Halas looked at my father for approval (not that he needed it). He continued: “You can only use this word on a really bad person, someone you really hate or who did something very very bad.” He then made me acknowledge that I understood, to which I responded: “Yes, Coach!” After what seemed like the longest minute ever, he turned around and said one word with an intensity that I had never seen: “PACKER.” And then he added: “Don’t tell your mom I told you!”
Sports Illustrated’s senior football writer, Peter King, is on vacation and Washington Redskins GM Bruce Allen filled in this week. Bruce shared this childhood anecdote about the late, great George Halas teaching him his first cuss word.
“Sometimes you wish Barry would just hit it up in there and get three yards. But then I’d say ‘Why do I want to tell Barry how to run?’ That’s like me calling the Vatican and telling the Pope how to pray.”
— Detroit Lions Linebacker Chris Spielman on how Barry Sanders was always looking for the big play.
“When I was a [freshman] in HS, Junior Seau worked the Jay Fiedler Football camp and at the end of one of the days he challenged anyone to a 1 on 1.
“Being one of the ‘big’ kids, I was volunteered by my buddies and went up in front of the whole camp to face this monster of a man. Shaking in my cleats, he gave me a wink before a coach gave the cadence. He let me pancake him. And he sold it too.
“I can’t even tell you how good I felt at that moment; it changed me forever. The whole camp cheered for me, a chubby kid that didn’t know if he even liked football. From then on I was addicted. All thanks 2 this 10 time all-pro that felt like making some snot-nosed kid’s day.
“Doesn’t seem like much but it meant a lot to me. Sorry for the essay just had to share. RIP Junior I’ll never forget what you did for me.”
— Eric Olsen
(Source: Sports Illustrated)
The highlight of the 2012 NFL draft was Morris Claiborne. A few years ago Patrick Patterson and Mo Claiborne made up one of the best corner back tandems in college history. We all knew who the first two picks would be, Andrew Luck and Robert Griffin III respectively. After that Minnesota, Cleveland and Tampa Bay would make their decisions and pick. All of these teams have secondaries that could use an athletic corner like Claiborne. It was a forgone conclusion that Claiborne would be gone within the first five picks in the draft. Only he wasn’t.
At pick number six the Cowboys traded up with St. Louis, giving up their 14th and 45th (second round) picks for the 6th overall. Jerry Jones wanted Claiborne. But that’s not weird, right? The Cowboys basically missed the playoffs because the couldn’t stop the Giants passing game. Terrance Newman is still having nightmares of Victor Cruz salsa dancing.
But it is odd and here’s why. Jerry Jones and the Cowboys were desperately in love with Morris Claiborne. It’s said the Cowboys hadn’t placed a grade this high on cornerback since Deion Sanders. They were so smitten with the prospect that they went for the playground crush technique and ignored him. They didn’t interview him. They didn’t bring him to their facility. They didn’t talk to him at his the LSU pro day. They didn’t even think of him. Jerry Jones has one hell of a Texas Hold ‘em poker face.
What solidified this as the moment of the draft was Morris’ reaction. The shock of playing for Big D was too much. He fought back tears having an emotional moment with his mother and choked up during his interview with Deion Sanders — disappointingly, it seems this interview is a video that never made it’s way to the internet.
“It still feels like it isn’t real, but I know it’s real. I’m just so excited to get in, to get to work, to get around my teammates.”
— Morris Claiborne
I’m a sucker for a good draft story.
After a decorated 16-year career Brian Dawkins announced his retirement. The NFL lost a great player — nine-time Pro Bowler and six-time All-Pro. He was a fierce hitter but in this day and age it seems terrible to praise that skill. B Dawk was a leader on and off the field. He also managed to do the unthinkable. He made Philadelphia, a place known for hating everyone, love him. They loved him in Philly. Their guy wasn’t Donovan McNabb, the leader by position, or Brian Westbrook, the irreplaceable piece. No, it was Brian Dawkins the man who fit the city, hard working and doing it all costs. It’s hard to believe the Eagles ever let him go.
And really, how can you not love Brian Dawkins. He was a character. Dawkins would speak in tongues during pregame warm ups and give pep talks to the football.
“Me and the ball have a relationship and sometimes it doesn’t always listen to me. So I’m telling you, you know, you need to holla at me today. Let’s talk a little bit today. Come by and see me.”
He was nicknamed Weapon X due to his love of Wolverine, the indestructible mutant hero. In Philadelphia, Dawkins had two lockers, one for Brian and one for his alter-ego Weapon X. Each were filled with Wolverine memorabilia mostly sent from adoring fans.
Brian Dawkins enjoyed his finest day as pro on September 29, 2002 — The Quadrafecta. The brand spanking new Houston Texans club traveled to old Veterans Stadium to face a hot Eagles team that had put 44 points up on Dallas a week prior. In this game Dawkins intercepted a pass, recovered a fumble, recorded a sack and caught a touchdown pass. In fact, Dawkins was the teams leading receiver, 57 yards off a shuffle pass from Brian Mitchell off a fake punt.
When Nike unveiled the new NFL uniforms two weeks ago they stayed mostly the same. The Seattle Seahawks made some drastic changes but they were an outlier. That is with one caveat. None of the alternate uniform designs were on display, we only saw the non-white jersey and coordinated pants (except for the Cowboys). Yesterday we got our first look at one of the new alternates. It’s hard to imagine being indecided here. You’re either going to love it or hate it.
To recognize the Pittsburgh’s 80th season they unveiled this new bumble bee outfit. The look is modeled after the 1934 prison yard look. Striking and loud.
“We wanted to use a jersey that we wore early in our history as we celebrate our 80th season. We have never used those jerseys since the 1934 season and I think our fans will be excited to see our players wear them in action this year.”
— Art Rooney II, Steelers’ President
I’m shocked. The Pittsburgh Steelers? The most storied franchise in the league. The no nonsense blue-collar Steelers are going with these alternate designs? A fantastically rich 80-year history and these are the throwbacks. Again, I gotta go back to being shocked.
To be fair, I have seen still images on mannequin and one player. Maybe they’ll look great on TV. All those players and all those stripes might be majestic, like a herd of zebras. It’s just hard to picture. I imagine it will look like they are all in khaki dress pants. What I really can’t get over is the helmet that Issac Redman posed with. All those details on the uniform and they are going with the current helmet? That can’t be accurate, they have to be going with an all black version.
It’s not all bad. The Steelers are going out on a limb and taking a chance, I respect that. And I really enjoy the socks.
The Saints soon to be suspended head coach, Sean Payton, has reached out to his long-time mentor and friend, Bill Parcells. The Saints need a head coach this season and Payton thinks Parcells would be a good fit. Parcells has not coached since 2006 when he ended a four-year stint with the Cowboys and announced his retirement. Still, it wouldn’t be anything new if he were to make a comeback. Peter King has noticed a pattern.
“This is my last coaching job, without question.”
— Parcells, upon taking his second head-coaching job, in New England. (January 21, 1993)
“I’m not going to coach any more football games. This definitely is the end of my coaching career.”
— Parcells, resigning as the head coach of the New York Jets. (January 3, 2000)
“You can write this on your little chalkboard — I’m not coaching again.”
— Parcells, after spurning an offer from Tampa Bay to succeed Tony Dungy (January 11, 2002)
“I’m retiring from coaching football … It’s time to stop. I just have to let it go.”
— Parcells, announcing he would not return to coach the Dallas Cowboys. (January 22, 2007)
A Chitwood & Hobbs Field Report